The Eagles have brought back Jason Peters, agreeing to a one-year deal with the 38-year-old nine-time Pro Bowler on Tuesday.
The plan is to move him from left tackle to right guard, where he’ll replace injured Brandon Brooks. A smart move? Three members of the Inquirer’s Eagles beat team give their opinions:
While I felt very strongly that bringing Jason Peters back to play left tackle for one more year would’ve been a mistake, I don’t feel the same way about them bringing him back to play right guard in the aftermath of Brandon Brooks’ season-ending Achilles’ injury.
Even at 38, even playing a position he’s never played, Peters is a better right-guard alternative than anybody the Eagles have on their roster.
And given his familiarity with the offense and the coaching staff and the other players on the offensive line -- as well as what he brings to the table as a team leader -- re-signing Peters to an affordable one-year deal is a better move than overpaying for somebody like three-time Pro Bowler Larry Warford, who is arguably the top free-agent guard on the market.
Peters no longer is the athletic freak that he was eight or nine years ago. But he doesn’t have to be at right guard. Particularly with two other All-Pros – center Jason Kelce and right tackle Lane Johnson -- playing alongside him.
Losing Brooks was a huge blow. Along with the Cowboys’ Zack Martin, Brooks is one of the two best guards in the league.
But Peters, who is all-in on the move to guard, is a big, powerful run blocker whose age-related deficiencies can be more easily minimized inside than they can be on the outside. Not many tackles move inside, particularly ones as decorated as Peters. But there’s no reason to believe he won’t be able to do it.
Peters also provides an insurance policy in the event 2019 first-round pick Andre Dillard can’t cut it at left tackle.
I understood the Eagles’ thinking when they decided, early in the offseason, to move on from Jason Peters to 2019 first-round pick Andre Dillard at left tackle. The team needed to get younger, and Dillard was drafted to play, not sit.
Then all the opportunities for Dillard to show he was ready in spring work were washed away by the coronavirus, and right guard Brandon Brooks tore his left Achilles’ tendon. So, in this context, bringing back Peters on a one-year deal as Brooks’ replacement makes great sense. He almost certainly can be a competent right guard. And if it turns out Dillard isn’t ready or just isn’t what he was supposed to be, it ought to be easy for Peters to go back to left tackle, and for Matt Pryor to take over at right guard.
I was against the idea of signing Peters just to push Dillard back to the bench without giving him a chance. But this is a great hedge of the Dillard bet. He gets his chance, and JP is right there to step in.
One of the things I was concerned about with the Eagles’ offseason youth movement was the loss of leadership and institutional knowledge, with Malcolm Jenkins gone from the defense and Peters not part of the offensive line room. Fans who only saw the injuries (Peters played 75% of the offensive snaps last season, 79% in 2018, BTW) and the occasional flag for trying to get a jump on the count couldn’t see the high value that offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland placed on having Peters around. And the rest of the O-line room felt the same way. Having Peters here for another year should help on the field, but it could be invaluable off the field, especially as Dillard feels his way through his first year as a starter.
There really wasn’t a comparable move that made sense.
The decision to sign Jason Peters is a low-risk, medium-reward decision, but the overall value of the move will be determined mostly by Peters’ ability to transition from left tackle to right guard. Andre Dillard showed us last year that making such a transition isn’t exactly a given, and his move across the line didn’t require switching from tackle to guard.
Peters has been playing tackle in the NFL since I was learning fractions in grade school and that’s not an exaggeration. He’s proved to be one of the best offensive linemen of his era, but I’m not sure he’s going to make a seamless transition to the interior line, especially not at 38.
There are times when flameouts at tackle can buy themselves some time and opportunity by sliding inside, but that’s usually with much younger players. Peters is still mobile for his size and age, but we’ll have to see if he has the combination of mobility and power required to deal with a modern-day three-technique. I’m not saying he’s incapable of handling himself — he was solid last year against a handful of great edge rushers — but I’d like to see it.
This season, Peters at right guard would match up against Aaron Donald and Geno Atkins out of division and will face Washington’s respectable interior-rushing rotation led by Jonathan Allen and Matthew Ioannidis twice. He’s proved critics wrong before, but that’s a tall order.
Even taking all this into consideration, it’s hard to fault the Eagles for taking a chance. He’s a far more proven player than Matt Pryor, and if Peters struggles enough to warrant going to Pryor, they’ll still have Pryor to turn to. Bringing Peters back under the guise as the starting right guard also gives them some Dillard insurance while still appearing confident in the second-year tackle. If Peters becomes a swing tackle relieving an underperforming Dillard or an injured Lane Johnson with Pryor at right guard, the team’s offensive line is still better than it would be without him.